The top up-and-coming Hip-Hop artists to watch in 2017

A new year means a whole load of new music to come and, perhaps more importantly, a bunch of new artists who will shape the sound of 2017. The first in our series of Artists To Watch 2017 looks at the rappers and hip-hop artists who will shape this year alongside some of RouteNote’s brilliant up-and-comers.


Hotly tipped to be the ‘other John Doe‘ that has joined TDE, SiR has been building his reputation as a singer and songwriter, featuring on Jay Rock’s 2015 album 90059 and working with fast-rising Anderson Paak. SiR’s blend of hip-hop beats and soulful R&B singing sets him apart as a unique artist ready to start making waves this year.

SiR released his EP ‘HER’ in 2016, building up more hype to a big 2017. Whilst SiR has been building his reputation on his own if the Inglewood native does become the next TDE signee he’s undoubtedly on to big things, as TDE stands as the pinnacle label for quality rap and hip-hop right now.


Following Beyonce’s support, dancing to D.R.A.M.’s 2015 track CHA CHA on Instagram, 2016 was a giant year for the singer/rapper. D.R.A.M. found hit success with Broccoli, his breakout single with Lil Yachty, before releasing his feel-good single Cash Machine – both of which ended up on his debut album ‘Big Baby D.R.A.M.’, released last October.

D.R.A.M.’s music has found mainstream appeal thanks to his mixture of trap beats with pop melodies and catchy hooks. With his unique gravelly voice and a surprising vocal range D.R.A.M. has established himself as an artist on the up and if 2016 was anything to go by, 2017 we’ll be seeing even more of the talented Big Baby D.R.A.M. as he established himself as a force to be reckoned with.


ATO is the first RouteNote artist in our list. The UK rapper combines talented lyricism and powerful production for tracks that are full of passion. ATO’s rhymed storytelling is perfectly complimented by moody beats, creating a unique atmosphere for each track.

Blending the styles of traditional hip-hop, trap, rock and Drake-like hooks, ATO has found a unique sound that is sure to continue spreading. The rapper has already amassed over a million plays on SoundCloud and we think 2017 is going to hold many more opportunities for ATO.


After spending years working to make his mark on the industry 6lack finally broke out last year through the success of his debut album ‘Free 6lack’. 6lack’s career got off to a difficult start thanks to his old label, but after creating his own brand and gaining success without them 6lack found his way on the right path to getting his music heard.

6lack’s debut album drew attention to him, particularly through his popular single ‘Prblms’, and now he’s in a position to start making real waves in 2017. The Georgia native’s music blends a smooth mix of chilled out beats and auto-tune vocals that will no doubt lead to some killer features from the rapper as his rise to fame is established.

AJ Tracey

AJ Tracey is a grime artist from West London who has been making many of the upcoming lists for 2017. The MC has been building his reputation over the past years and with his hits from last year ‘Pasta’ and ‘Buster Cannon’ Tracey started gaining the recognition his abilities deserve.

AJ Tracey is kicking off 2017 with a UK tour starting January 20th with half of the tickets already sold out. With his new EP ‘Lil Tracey’ released last month and a massive tour to kickstart the new year we agree with other publications that this is going to be a big year for the Grime MC.


Asfalt are an Egyptian Hip-Hop group and another RouteNote artist. Their tracks focus on the struggles of everyday life covering issues that talks to the average person like societal issues, politics, culture clashes – particularly the struggles and conflict surrounding their nation.

Asfalt have built a massive audience for their music and their exciting live shows where they combine instruments, beats, vocals, rap, poetry, beat boxing and dance for an unmatched live experience. Asfalt have a large following, with almost a million likes on Facebook, that they have built over 10 years and 2017 looks set to be their biggest year yet. We can’t wait to see what they come out with next

Nadia Rose

Nadia Rose is a quick rising female grime MC who has found herself quickly rising to fame thanks to her viral singles in 2015. Last year saw her recognition boom as she rapped her way onto the front stage of the Grime scene with more hits like her breakthrough hit from last year – ‘Skwod’.

Now she’s primed 2017 as her year to shine with the release of her debut album ‘Highly Flammable’ on the 13th January. Nadia Rose has been drawing attention from all over the world and she’s set to become the new leader for UK’s female MC scene.

Normanton Street

Normanton Street may not be the most well known RouteNote artists but they are one of our in-house favourites. The four-piece group based in Brighton blend hip-hop and soul thanks to the amazing pairing of Nicholson and Ned’s intelligent raps complementing singer Phoebe’s incredible voice.

With tight backing the group meld between jazz, funk and hip-hop sounds as the three vocalists set the scene for their tracks. Last year was a phenomenal year for the band as they were invited to fly over to Texas and perform at the giant SXSW music festival and releasing their latest awesome EP, Life’s Real.

With such a great year in 2016 we don’t see Normanton Street heading anywhere but up from here.

You can read our interview with Nicholson from Normanton Street here:

That completes our list of the top hip-hop artists and groups to watch out for in the next year. Keep an eye out for our next in the series where we’ll be looking at the electronic artists and producers we think will shape 2017.
Is there anyone you think should have been included? Get involved and let us know down in the comments below!

RouteNote Offices closed for the holidays, back on January 3rd

The holiday season is upon us again and whether or not you celebrate Christmas it’s a time to come together and appreciate what we have, as the RouteNote team will be.

It’s been an incredible year for RouteNote this year. We’ve seen record numbers of new users and tracks and every day our artists cease to surprise and amaze us with their fantastic music from all corners of the earth, covering all genres imaginable.

Now it’s time for us to take a quick break so we’re ready to take on all the great new music you guys have to offer in the new year.

The RouteNote offices will be closed from the 23rd December to the 3rd January.
We will be unable to respond to emails and uploads until we return.

So thanks to all of our lovely users for making 2016 our best year yet and here’s to an even bigger year in 2017!

Happy Holidays!

The fascinating history of music in Video Games comes together in ‘Beep’

Music is everywhere in entertainment, there are even Oscars for music in films, but video games are often overlooked for the massive influence music plays in creating their experiences.

Looking to unearth the epic history behind the use of music in video games comes a mostly crowdfunded documentary, Beep: A Documentary History of Game Sound. The documentary follows sound in music from the very first arcades to present day gaming featuring interviews with over 80 composers, sound designers, voice actors and more, including the legendary Marty O’ Donnell – composer of Halo’s famous original soundtrack and more recently Destiny.

Marty O’Donnell said himself of the doc: “I love this film! It’s amazing and gratifying to see and hear so many talented game audio friends and colleagues all in one place. Informative and entertaining with a bit of a walk down memory lane.”

The creators say:

No longer just the “ugly stepchild” of the games industry, Beep traces the history of game sound from the Victorian penny arcades through pinball and to today’s massive industry of soundtracks and live music. With clips from over 80 interviews with game composers, sound designers, voice actors and audio directors from around the world, Beep is the definitive documentary on game sound.

Beep video games music documentary sound composers games

The composer behind games like 7th Guest and Wing Commander, George “The Fat Man” Sanger wrote: “Do you ever think about sound for games? This movie shows it for what it is: an art and a science, brand-new yet venerated, popular yet obscure, beautiful yet quirky. It’s rooted in a sound that is beyond simple, but to make game music is as complex an activity as anything that a person can dedicate their life to. These are the people who have dedicated their lives to just that: “beep.”

The 2 hour documentary and 1+ hours of extras can be rented for $3.99 or buy it forever for $9.99 from their site:

BBC Music reveal the Sound of 2017 longlist with Anderson Paak, Jorja Smith and others

BBC’s longlist for the Sound of 2017 has been revealed and shows the domination of hip-hop in music with urban artists making up over half the list this year.

Using an eclectic panel of 170 DJs, critics and writers BBC Music have come up with their selection of the most promising up-and-comers for the year to come. Previous years’ winners have included Sam Smith, last year’s Jack Garrett and possibly their best prediction with Adele in 2008.

The selection for 2017 shows the rise of grime music in the UK with newcomers Ray Blk and Nadia Rose on the list. Elsewhere more rap and poetry acts show hip-hop’s current popularity with London wordsmith AJ Tracey up for nomination and alternative rapper Dave. One of the most notable acts on the list is US producer, musician, rapper and singer Anderson .Paak who has found rising success after featuring all over Dr. Dre’s comeback album last year and releasing his acclaimed debut Malibu at the start of this year.

BBC Music Sound of 2017 longlist

AJ Tracey – West London wordsmith

Anderson .Paak – Dr. Dre endorsed rap prodigy

Cabbage – Post-punk provocateurs

Dave – Plaintive rapper with classical training

Declan McKenna – Polemic singer-songwriter

Jorja Smith – Heart-rending soul singer

Maggie Rogers – Graceful songwriter who stunned Pharrell

Nadia Rose – With wordplay and colourful beats

Rag N Bone Man Gravel-voiced soul revelation

Ray BLK – Street smart R&B

Raye – Electro beats with soaring pop melodies

Stefflon Don – Wicked, dancehall-inspired wordplay

The Amazons – Raucous rock revivalists

The Japanese House – Enigmatic pop maven

Tom Grennan – Gruff, soulful singer-songwriter

The list is also notable for the resurgence in political songs with acts like Declan McKenna and Cabbage coming out with songs criticising right-wing media and controversial leaders like Kim Jong Un and new US President-elect Donald Trump.

You can read more on the acts and previous BBC Sound of the Year winners from the BBC’s news report on the Sound of 2017.

How to make a song using a Greyhound bus as an instrument

Making a song with one instrument sounds like a tough undertaking but what if your sole source of instrumentals was one, giant Greyhound bus?

Prolific YouTuber and musician Andrew Huang set out to find out just that and with some incredible results. Huang, famous for his unique experimentation with music and “alternative” instruments, was the challenge by Greyhound to create an entire song using only one of their buses for sound.

From creating a clap sound by buckling the seatbelt to making a hi-hat noise by rubbing on the fabric of the chairs, Huang created a full song just by experimenting with the possible noises made on a bus. Not only is it an impressive task but, thanks to Huang’s talented musicianship, it also resulted in a wicked and totally unique sounding track – Give it a listen!

As with many of Huang’s videos it shows the massive capabilities of making music by being creative with natural sounds. You don’t always need a full band behind you or a MIDI keyboard full of synths to create a dope track, and by being creative with samples you can truly create something that sounds like nothing ever created before.

Check out the making of the track below:

Hopefully this challenge can inspire you to get out and record some sounds from unexpected places to inspire you in all new ways.

Check out Andrew Huang’s YouTube channel for regular videos on creating music in new and profound ways as well as taking a look at some of the most innovative new music instruments and tech coming out.